Sunday, 19 October 2014


When I get home from work every afternoon, Naveen shouts out from wherever he is in the house, “Mommy?!! Is that you?!!” And when I confirm that yes it is, he lets out a whoop, and in his loudest most joyful voice he lets Deaglan and Shaune know that I’m home. 

This announcement is made despite the fact that usually both are in my plain sight and can see clearly that I am indeed home. And once my arrival is confirmed and properly celebrated, he wraps his arms around my legs, looks up into my face and asks in his most sober - finally I can relax voice if he can have a piece of gum and get into his Batman pajamas.  

He then tells me about his day, each event, a 28 minute long story, in the middle of which, if he senses he’s not getting my complete and undivided attention, scolds me for not listening and starts the story again from the very beginning.

After dinner, while Deaglan and I sit together to do reading homework, he stands behind me against the back of the couch, arms around my neck, chin on one shoulder listening to his brother’s slow and steady telling of each story.

And on my luckiest nights, a few times throughout the evening, he either asks to be picked up or if I’m sitting, plops down on my lap so that he can plant a dozen or so kisses on my face. His small hands cup my face and he tells me over and over that he loves me.

Oh, we have plenty of other moments too.

I tell him he has to take a bite of broccoli.
He tells me I’m no longer his friend.  
I tell him for the fourth time to put his shoes in the closet.
He accuses me of bad mothering (he really does!).
I side with Deaglan in one of their arguments.
He promises to cut me off from all affection for good.

But it occurs to me, in the hustle and bustle of school, extra-curriculars and work where structure and routine must necessarily rule, these moments glisten like flecks of gold in the monotonous terrain of our everydays.

He got new pajamas today.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The loud and gentle voices

Last winter I gained something like 7 pounds.

On my small, apple (not pear) shaped, child-birth-ravaged, could-actually-stand-to-lose-15-pounds frame, that’s a lot of extra weight. To be honest I was in complete denial (even though my skirts had been screaming Uncle every time I zipped them up) until a very truthful colleague at work pointed it out. We only see each other every few months, so when she visited from the Toronto office last spring she asked me flat out.

She is soft spoken with a very thick accent and was smiling while pointing to my mid section; naturally I assumed she was paying me a compliment. She must be, I remember thinking, for there can be no other good reason to so intentionally spotlight a middle aged woman’s most vulnerable parts.

In response to what I thought I heard, I told her no, I hadn’t. She insisted that I had and then, to prove it, she pointed to my face. She was gesturing that it had gotten fuller.

Then light-headedness.
Was I dreaming? Was this woman really telling me that I’d gained weight?

Yes, I do still speak to her.

But it did hurt to know that the long wretched winter we had last year had left its mark on me. I can’t say for sure but it might likely have been the many Saturday afternoons I spent snuggling up with Dexter and Ms. Vickie.

A deadly threesome.

I’ve been a regular exerciser most of my adult life but it was clear that I could no longer afford to eat like I did even five years ago. This broke my heart.

Sorrowfully, I unfriended Ms. Vickie.
Dexter and I became exclusive.

I started adding in a sixth workout when I could and played soccer with the kids most nights after dinner throughout the summer. The weight did not budge. I read about perimenopause and how hard it could be to lose weight in the years leading up to menopause but didn’t want to believe it was impossible. Finally, I took a good hard look at how I was eating and accepted that while most of the time I did make good choices, I was still eating too much.

That’s when I turned inward.

I started listening to the voices in my head before each meal and noticed that just before lunch and dinner there was one particularly loud voice that told me there was not going to be enough food. Eat as much as you can, it insisted, before it’s all gone. And eat fast!

Obviously, those first seven years in Bangladesh when full meals were rare and the subsequent years as part of a large family where you had to act fast at the dinner table, had done a number on my relationship with food.

I started a dialogue.

How about we eat this much and if we’re still hungry in a half hour we’ll grab something else?  I asked gently at every meal. The voice began to listen and eventually quiet down. That was three weeks ago. I’m happy to tell you that I’ve shed six pounds.

That’s like an average sized newborn.
An uncarved pumpkin.
A small turkey. I’ve lost a small turkey!

The voice (along with so many others) is still with me but we’re learning to co-exist. And I still think about Ms. Vickie at least a few times every month but so far have not renewed our friendship. But Dexter and I? 

We’ve still got some unfinished business - Season 8 is finally on Netflix (!).

Here's Naveen yesterday morning in his favorite outfit - the one I mentioned in my last post. He insisted on wearing it again this morning. Oh how I love to do  laundry at 6 am on a weekday!